DVD REVIEW: LIFE OF CRIME / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DANIEL SCHECHTER / SCREENPLAY: DANIEL SCHECHTER / STARRING: JENNIFER ANISTON, MOS DEF, JOHN HAWKES, ISLA FISHER, TIM ROBBINS, WILL FORTE / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 5TH
In 1970s America, Mos Def and John Hawkes team up to kidnap millionaire real estate developer Tim Robbins' wife, played by Jennifer Aniston. Isla Fisher and Will Forte round off the cast to make this adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel one of the more interesting crime oddities you'll ever see. Oh, and did we mention that it's a sort-of prequel to Jackie Brown?
Heavily influenced by the work of the Coen Brothers and black comedy-veering crime movies such as Ruthless People, this smart, funky film utilises its actors well, with the less well-known Hawkes a personable anchor in the midst of bigger stars such as Aniston, Robbins and Def. It's made all the more interesting due to the fact that Hawkes and Def are here playing younger versions of Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson's characters. Tarantino would certainly have had a field day with Aniston's injured foot – punctured on glass during the initial kidnapping.
Still, Life of Crime is more interested in doing its own thing than aping Tarantino. It's a folksy, restrained tale that goes for quiet amusement over belly laughs (like the kidnappers, it doesn't bother with gags) and steady drama rather than big car chases or loud gun fights. Screenwriter and director Daniel Schechter lets his actors do all of the heavy lifting, confident in the strength of the dialogue and character work. Aniston is given more to do than she's had in a while, even if most of her screen time is hidden beneath a balaclava and duct taped eyes. That sense of comic timing – so well used in the mighty Friends – is gently exercised, while Robbins is very good as her mean, unpleasant husband. Fisher, meanwhile, comes close to stealing the whole show, running rings around the typically mumble-y Mos Def.
With its cool visuals, intelligent performances and tense story, Life of Crime proves more than worthy of Leonard's characters and its actors' talents. Sometimes, crime does pay.
Special Features: Making-of featurettes / Commentary / Deleted Scenes
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